Marketing Research Skills for Success is an ongoing feature in foresight showcasing the unique skills and training needs to thrive in today’s industry. Inaugural bloggers to this section Miguel Huapaya Toledo and Tasnim Islam blog about their research and study on the skills needed for today’s entry-level researchers in three blog posts.
Marketing Research Training: What to Add?
By Miguel Huapaya Toledo and Tasnim Islam
We are facing an unprecedented situation due to COVID-19 and these changed circumstances affect everything in the business world. Entry-level professionals in the marketing research industry will have the unique opportunity to study customer behaviour “pre-COVID” and “post-COVID”.
Understanding that face-to-face research is now limited and has been replaced with online tools, new researchers have to deal with an uncertain environment: the question about what could be incorporated into a marketing research training program becomes inevitable.
Continuing with the Skills for Success in Marketing Research Series of blog posts, the focus of our last article on the alumni and employer survey for foresight is to discuss what could be added to improve the training of those students who want to pursue a marketing or public opinion research path. “The nature of research is changing and it’s clear […], emphasis is being placed on data analysis, technology, and adaptability.” (GreenBook, n.d.)
[To read the first blog post: Required “Hard” Skills for Marketing Research Professionals click here]
[To read the second blog post: Essential Attributes for Success in Research: the “Soft” Skills click here.]
Moving on with the results of the survey of alumni of the MRA program and survey of employers of the Canadian marketing research and community (Algonquin College, 2021), the following open-ended questions were asked to give a better understanding of participants’ feedback on what to incorporate to enhance the skills and training of future marketing research professionals.
Questions used in the study:
For employers: Is there something you would like to add here that is needed to enhance the skills and training of graduates coming from marketing research, public opinion research, data, insights, analytics and related programs in colleges and universities in Canada?
For alumni: Is there something you would like to add to enhance the content that is taught in the MRA/MRBI program?
To most employers, exposing students to real cases and teaching project management came up as essential skills to add to the program. Regarding the importance of adding project management training, employers observed that many recent graduates have limited awareness of the amount of work and the estimation of the time required for each step of the project. They also emphasized quality control processes, and maintaining client and co-worker coordination as an important part of the training.
Employers mentioned that attention to detail and efficiency in identifying errors (i.e. questionnaires, reports, data tables and data files) are fundamental skills of project management. Employers also stated that exposing students to real cases would help develop students’ critical thinking and planning skills.
In addition, improving students’ technical literacy skills, writing skills, online research skills and analytical skills also came up frequently among employers. Finally, some of the employers suggested that in order to better prepare marketing research professionals, institutions could follow the CAIP competency framework as a foundation.
From the survey of Algonquin MRBI alumni, respondents suggested adding more content in the teaching of different types of data analysis techniques, including data cleaning and data manipulation. Alumni also suggested including additional software training over and above SPSS (base software) such as Power Query, MS Excel and Power BI. They believed that further training in Power BI and MS Excel would help to create more attractive PowerPoint presentations.
For many alumni, training in actionable report writing and storytelling, appear to be essential skills. In addition, critical thinking skills, maintaining a connection with clients and industries, exposure to real cases and increased training in qualitative research were also mentioned by alumni.
The takeaways of this article are found in the answer to the following question: “what to add to a marketing research program?”, and the responses were: exposure to real-life industry cases, additional project management training, greater emphasis on data analysis and research software, and optimizing report writing and presentation (storytelling).
The study was conducted in cooperation with CRIC and CAIP, under the supervision of Algonquin College professors Nathaniel Stone and Todd Armstrong.
Survey of employers in the Canadian marketing research industry and community: Online survey with Survey Monkey; from June 1st to June 21, 2021; 51 completed responses; Language: English and French.
Survey of alumni of the MRBI program: Online survey with Survey Monkey; from June 1st to June 11, 2021; 30 completed responses; Language: English.
Algonquin College (2021). Survey of alumni of the MRBI program and Survey of employers in the Canadian marketing research industry. https://algonquinlivecom-my.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/personal/huap0001_algonquinlive_com/EUbbZIUvO31JggGJxGqXGu4BylPB0o9plBAkNH_7S2txwg?e=3ZgSYa
GreenBook (n.d.). The Adaptability Advantage: Meeting the New Demands of Market Research. Retrieved from: https://www.greenbook.org/mr/grit/the-adaptability-advantage-meeting-the-new-demands-of-market-research/
About the Authors:
Miguel Huapaya Toledo and Tasnim Islam are graduating students of the final semester of the Marketing Research & Business Intelligence (MRBI) program at Algonquin College and they have been working on several projects within the College.
If you liked this blog post, also stay tuned for CRIC’s upcoming webinar on August 25 “Careers in Marketing Research: Opportunities in the Coming Decade” featuring a range of perspectives and experts as they weigh in on the marketplace.